The 99th Tour de France starts Saturday, June 30 in Liege, Belgium. Defending champion Cadel Evans will look to hold off Bradley Wiggins and the balance of the field, and the following seven stages could prove to be tipping points in the battle for the final yellow jersey.
The race will end in Paris on July 22 after the riders traverse the 2,200-mile course.
The most casual of fans are familiar with the dreaded climbs through the Alps and Pyrenees mountains. However, racers will also face blistering heat radiating from the pavement along with dangerous wind gusts.
Rain is also likely, creating even more danger as cyclists navigate tight turns.
Looking over the course, the following seven stages will create challenges and opportunities for the competitors in the 2012 Tour de France.
All graphs and maps are from letour.fr. Expanded information can be found by clicking on each.